How to Build Resilience in the Age of Trauma

How to Build Resilience in the Age of Trauma

The age we live in is one of constant change, upheaval, and uncertainty. 

The more modern world we live in has become vastly different from the one our ancestors experienced thousands of years ago. 

Today, people are living under constant stress, the negative impact this has on their mental health, and more specifically, their resilience. 

Researchers have found that how we handle change and stress can have a significant impact on our resilience and the way we recover from trauma. 

It is no wonder, then, that resilience is so important. If we are not able to recover quickly from the negative effects of a traumatic event or change, we run the risk of becoming traumatized again in the future. 

The good news is that we can all work on improving our resilience, and it doesn't require a lot of time or effort. 

In this article, we will explore some simple ways that you can build resilience in the age of trauma.

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Lori Geissinger, LPCC

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(719) 345-2424

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

(719) 602-1342

Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

(719) 452-4374

Learn to Recognize and Expect Stress

A critical aspect of resilience is being able to anticipate and react to stressful events in a healthy way. 

This can help reduce the negative impact of stress on our physical and mental health. 

For example, if you are anticipating a stressful event, such as giving a presentation at work, you can prepare for it by practicing your speech multiple times so that you are not likely to forget anything important on the day. 

You can also make sure that you have enough time on your hands beforehand so that there is no need to rush or panic when it comes time for the presentation. 

This will reduce pressure and allow you to remain calm when it is time for the big moment. 

Learning how to recognize and prepare for stress ahead of time is an excellent way to build your resilience. 

It will help decrease the likelihood of experiencing anxiety or depression because of these stressors. 

Part of this also means knowing how to manage expectations. Things will go wrong, sometimes in devastating ways. 

Acknowledging that your expectations can't always match reality will give you the strength to find acceptance in a world that is in a constant state of flux.

Practice Healthy Coping Styles

Find and practice healthy coping styles. As we have learned, resilience is not a fixed ability but can be strengthened by certain behaviors. 

Of course, the most important thing you can do to build your resilience is to surround yourself with people and things that are positive and uplifting. 

This applies to the type of work you do as well as the emotional atmosphere in your home life. 

Finding a way to manage stress is important for building resilience too, so find ways to calm yourself down when you need to.

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious at work, take some time out to relax. This will lower your stress levels, which will help strengthen your overall resilience. 

Practice mindfulness meditation - or another form of mindfulness practice - daily or weekly. Mindfulness incorporates breath-work and meditation into everyday tasks such as eating and cleaning, which helps you become more aware of what's going on in your life right now – no matter how small it seems. 

It also helps us practice self-love because it teaches us how to take care of ourselves when we feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities or even just by day-to-day life challenges. 

Find a hobby that lets you express yourself creatively and physically – think painting, swimming, dancing, etc. 

Spending time doing something creative with your hands is also great for lowering stress levels and relaxing your mind from any worries about the past or future.

Avoid Situations That Will Trigger Symptoms

Some individuals are more likely to be triggered when they come in contact with a certain situation or event. 

It is important that you can identify what will trigger your symptoms and try to avoid those situations. 

For example, if you know that being around large crowds of people will cause you to experience flashbacks of the traumatic event, then it's important that you stay away from big crowds as much as realistically possible.

Being honest with yourself about what your triggers are will help you to avoid negative flashbacks or panic attacks.

Find A Support Network

One of the easiest ways to build your resilience is to find a positive, supportive network. 

This can be friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else you can spend time with who has good energy and a practical outlook on life. 

Studies have shown that people who have strong relationships with others recover more quickly from trauma than those without one. 

This is because they are more able to turn to their support system when they need help. 

These relationships also act as a buffer against negative events and experiences in our lives. 

It's important to be selective about who you choose as your support network. 

Spend time with people who have a realistic outlook on life, and aren't afraid to give practical advice—not people who have their heads in the clouds. 

Find Time to Grieve

The world we live in is changing at an extremely fast rate.  It can feel disorientating and confusing to watch the things we thought we knew well, suddenly become irrelevant.

It is very tempting to block out all negative news and focus solely on pleasurable experiences.  Unfortunately, being blissfully unaware of reality does little to protect us in the long run.

It is important to find the time to grieve the things we lose.  Whether it's a job, a way of life, or simply a belief system we no longer feel connected to.

Accepting change is always difficult, but it is necessary to allow yourself the time to grieve what has been lost. 

Once we have grieved, we can find the time to rebuild and reshape our lives in a more resilient way.

Conclusion

In the face of trauma, some people experience resilience and others, vulnerability. 

As we live in the aftermath of a traumatic and divisive time, many people are experiencing a lot of stress. 

The way we manage stress is important to our overall health and well-being. 

You will be more resilient to trauma if you learn to recognize and expect stress, practice healthy coping styles, try to avoid situations that will trigger symptoms, find time to grieve what has been lost and find a strong support network.

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May 17th, 2022

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